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Everything you need to sell online

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How to Start a Successful Bookstore Online

9 min read

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, was originally founded as an online bookstore. While most online stores won’t grow into multi-billion dollar corporations, that fact shows that selling books online can be a good way to make money.

If you are thinking of opening your own online bookstore, there is plenty of potential. But, as with any business, you won’t find much success without careful planning. Starting an online bookstore requires research, strategy, and a bit of creativity. Want to learn more? Here is everything you should know about how to start a profitable used bookstore online.

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Why Sell Books

Books are a timeless and simple source of entertainment and enrichment. Even with the abundance of entertainment options available today, reading remains extremely popular. Over 70% of U.S. adults read books regularly, with reading habits increasing worldwide during the pandemic.

On top of being an evergreen retail product, books are also very cost-effective to sell. Books are easy to manufacture and easy to ship, which keeps operation costs low for book manufacturers and sellers alike.

E-books vs. Paper Books

One concern online bookstore owners may have is the rise of e-books. There is no doubt that e-books have changed the way people read. E-books enjoyed a steady rise in popularity over the last decade, and have settled into a comfortable niche. Despite this, e-book sales seem to have plateaued at around 13% of total book sales in the U.S.

Additionally, hardcover and paperback books continue to dominate, accounting for the majority of all books sold, both globally and in America. These numbers are backed by studies about reading habits. According to one study, 37% of respondents claim they only read physical books, compared to 28% who read a mix of print and e-books. Just 7% of respondents claim to read e-books exclusively.

All of these statistics suggest that online bookstore owners do not need to worry about competition from e-books.

How to Start an Online Bookstore: Where to Find Stock

One of the most important problems to solve when starting any retail business is where to find stock. Online bookstores have a few more options than most in this regard. For your bookstore, you can choose to get your stock from book wholesalers or dropshippers. In either of these models, you will buy new books from vendors and resell them to your customers.

However, bookstore owners also have the option to sell used books. Used books can be found all over the place for very cheap. Flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales are all great places to search for used books. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of each business model.


The advantage of reselling books wholesale is that you have complete control over your inventory. When you resell wholesale books, you always know exactly what you have in stock. On top of that, your books will be brand new and of pristine quality. This means they can be sold at a higher price point.


Dropshipping is a very cost-effective business model with a low barrier to entry. With dropshipping, you primarily act as a sales facilitator. You agree to list a dropshipper’s products on your website. Then, when customers purchase those products from you, the dropshipper is responsible for fulfilling the order. In this model, you only pay for items when you sell them. As such, there is minimal risk and little investment required. However, the dropshipping model can be limiting. When you use dropshipping, you are not in control of your inventory or order fulfillment methods. This can be very limiting to your expansion potential.


Selling used books is also a viable option for online bookstores. A book’s quality does not diminish much, if at all when it’s used. It is easy to find used books for very low costs at flea markets and estate sales and resell them for a high-profit margin.

The drawback of selling used books is that you may struggle to have a consistent inventory. Selling used books is dependent on what you can find for resale. In addition, used books also sell for less than new books in most cases. However, they can still turn a profit.

Ultimately, you do not need to choose between either used or new. Many online bookstores offer a mix of new and used books and make good money doing so.

Creating a Website For Your Online Bookstore

Your business model is very important to determining the success of your online bookstore. The same can be said about your website. As an online retailer, having a user-friendly web store is extremely important. The simplest way to create a custom, professional-quality website is to choose a good e-commerce platform.

An e-commerce platform is a platform that helps companies set up and manage their online business. This includes website design, but also includes tools to help you manage your inventory, your brand, customer service, and more.

What to Look For in an E-commerce Platform

The most important qualities to look for in an e-commerce platform are flexibility, accessibility, and accessibility.

Flexibility refers to the platform’s ability to allow you to adapt, add new features to your website, and grow. A platform that only provides the basic features for starting your online store will become less useful over time.

Accessibility refers to how easy the platform is to use. Managing your business is hard enough already. You don’t need to make things worse by getting stuck with a platform that is not user-friendly. Therefore, a clear and efficient user interface, good customer support, and lots of options are key for a good e-commerce platform.

And last, you want a platform that is not hard on your budget. Most e-commerce platforms have multiple payment plans available. But some offer more value than others.

Ecwid is an e-commerce platform that has each of these areas covered. Ecwid is designed to help small business owners create professional-quality online stores with a range of helpful features and tools. Ecwid is also one of the few e-commerce platforms that offer a free plan which covers everything your business needs to get started. And, when you’re ready to expand, Ecwid also has tons of tools to help grow your business. Want to learn more about how Ecwid can help? Read about how our platform can help convert more sales with a few simple updates.


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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I’m so impressed I’ve recommended it to my website clients and am now using it for my own store along with four others for which I webmaster. Beautiful coding, excellent top-notch support, great documentation, fantastic how-to videos. Thank you so much Ecwid, you rock!
I’ve used Ecwid and I love the platform itself. Everything is so simplified it’s insane. I love how you have different options to choose shipping carriers, to be able to put in so many different variants. It’s a pretty open e-commerce gateway.
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I like that Ecwid was easy to start and to use. Even for a person like me, without any technical background. Very well written help articles. And the support team is the best for my opinion.
For everything it has to offer, ECWID is incredibly easy to set up. Highly recommend! I did a lot of research and tried about 3 other competitors. Just try ECWID and you'll be online in no time.

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